Well, I finally quit my excruciating, painful, knock-my-head-against-the-wall-for-14-hours-each-day job, so now I'll have a shitload more time on my hands. When I first started this blog I was hoping to do indvidual pieces on each show I saw or each album I heard in a timely fashion, regardless of how good or bad, and since I was working upwards of 70 mentally-draining hours a week there wasn't much time for that. With that workload now reduced to zero hours a week, at least for the foreseeable future, there should be more time for the truly insignificant things in life, such as writing entries for a blog read by nobody. (That's you!)
Anyhow, the first time I saw Type O Negative, they seemed primed to rule the world, or at least as close to it as a melodic thrash band with goth leanings could get. Fresh off the release of their career defining Bloody Kisses, I caught 'em at Nassau Coliseum, opening up for the mighty Pantera at Nassau Coliseum in what had to have been either '94 or '95. Back then, they opened up their set with the pummeling "Too Late: Frozen," a song that's part weepy break-up song ("Was everything we had just a joke?/I've run out of patience, tears and hope") and part bizarro undead cheerleader cadence ("One! Two! Fuck you!"). How the hell these guys ever got mainstream radio play with "Christian Woman" and "Black No. 1" still confuses the shit out of me to this day. Is there any artist that seemed more out of place when situated amongst the usual Toadies/Silverchair/Stone Temple Pilots alt-rock playlist you'd hear in the mid-90s? Not that I can think of.
Now, don't get me wrong, I fucking LOVE Pantera, but Type O all but blew them off the stage that night. The version of "Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity" (the song with the "I know you're fucking someone else" chorus) that they played last night still ranks amongst the most bestest live songs I've ever had the pleasure of witnessing.
Today's Type O has slogged on through four more studio albums (plus a "Least Worst of" collection), with seemingly interminable waiting times of at least three years between each. Their most recent, Dead Again, released last month, proved that neither the band's popularity (it debuted at #27 on the Billboard charts) nor its ferocity (the treblified buzz-saw "lead bass" tone still reigns supreme on their recordings) nor its bombast (six songs clocking in at at least 7 minutes) has diminished during the intervening years. But how about their live show?
I arrived at Irving Plaza a bit after 9 PM, having missed opening band Brand New Sin. Apparently, Irving Plaza has been rechristened "The Fillmore at Irving Plaza," although I was unable to really notice any real changes to the venue other than a cordoned off area to the right side facing the stage where band gear is apparently now kept. I noticed that the same dickhead bouncer that tried to kick me out of a Guided by Voices show in December '04 was still working there, and in typical "that guy" fashion he elbowed his way through the crowd in order to both scold this evening's weedsmokers and establish himself as the room's Alpha Male. I entered the hall just in time to catch the joyless monotony of classic doomsters Celtic Frost's set. With the exception of a few classic NWOBHM licks, these guys were about as fun as a "hands on" trip to the urologist. Obviously, my back started killing me and I longed for somewhere to sit down, and, failing that, something to lean on. Anticipation ran high.
Unfortunately, following Celtic Frost, Type O decided to severely fuck with the audience, playing "The Chicken Dance" over the in-house PA for literally upwards of 30 minutes, complete with about 10 or so fakeouts during which the house lights were dimmed, only to be raised back up along with the blaring Chicken Dance. Not fun. After about 20 minutes a roadie came onstage to announce that "Pete [Steele, the band's vocalist/bassist/songwriter] missed his train... he'll be late" and imploring the soundman to "just play the Chicken Dance for another half hour." Obviously, the audience sensed this announcement to be highly dubious, but that didn't make the situation any better. Not to mention that for me, this interim was spent with some chick behind me jabbing me with her elbows as she made out with her boyfriend all sloppy-like. Collectively, the two smelled like an overturned outhouse at a BBQ pork cookoff.
Finally, the band took the stage, accompanied by the crowd's faithful "You! Suck! You! Suck!" chant, just as heard on their (fake) live album, The Origin of the Feces. The first impression was not, how you say, good. The once-formidable Man of Steele looked pale, wan and deathly ill, not to mention that it was a bit troubling to see him sporting a pair of tits and matching lovehandles. Clearly, years of cocaine abuse, alcoholism and failing mental health have not treated the man kindly. And he didn't sound much better, either, croaking through a cover of "Magical Mystery Tour," followed by "We Hate Everyone" and "The Profit of Doom." For some reason I was reminded of that horrible Bob Dylan MTV Unplugged album, where his unwillingness/inability to enunciate/sing properly made me wish someone would just turn his mic off so the crowd at large could perform in his stead. Following "Profit," Steele announced that he had to leave the stage "so I can go vomit," the first of several confusing, momentum-killing evacuations of the stage by the band during the set.
Of course, in following with the "let's piss off the paying crowd as much as we can" theme, these seemingly impromptu setbreaks were filled with the worst music imaginable, i.e. the Addams Family theme song and recordings of crowds cheering and booing. Just not cool, man. When the band returned, Steele announced that he had "eaten a half of a bad pizza backstage." Credible, especially in light of his history of drug and alcohol abuse? You be the judge; I'll just passive- aggressively put that out there. Steele's vocals sounded much better following this intermission, as they played several new songs quite well and dipped deep into their back catalog for the boring "Hey Pete/Kill You Tonight (reprise)." The "two songs onstage, then a break" routine continued, to the point where I actually started to walk out in disgust right as the opening notes of "Christian Woman" started up. Finally! After still yet the umpteenth setbreak, we got a cool instrumental jam with some Sabbath licks thrown in, and, ultimately, "Black No. 1," with the latter closing the show before a huge toilet paper fight broke out between the band/crew and the audience. Yes, I was disappointed that they didn't play "Naturally Coping," but that complaint was really towards the bottom of my list of annoyances. Won't be seeing these guys again. Had I known the show was going to be such a disappointment, I would have hit Arcade Fire, which I also had a ticket to. Oh, well.